Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Aditi included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Aditi

1) Genealogy. Kaśyapa, grandson of Brahmā and son of Marīci married Aditi, daughter of Dakṣaprajāpati. Aditi had twelve sisters: Diti, Kālā, Danāyus, Danu, Siṃhikā, Krodhā, Pṛthā, Viśvā, Vinatā, Kapilā, Muni and Kadrū. (Mahābhārata, Ādi Parva, Chapter 65, Verse 12). Devas are sons born to Kaśyapa by Aditi and hence they are known as Āditeyas also. Kaśyapa married all the thirteen sisters including Aditi, and all living beings owe their origin to them. (See Kaśyapa).


33 sons were born to Aditi. 12 of them are called Dvādaśādityas, viz. Dhātā, Aryamā, Mitra, Śakra, Varuṇa, Aṃśa, Bhaga, Vivasvān, Pūṣā, Savitā, Tvaṣṭā and Viṣṇu. Amongst the other 21 sons are the 11 Rudras and 8 Vasus. (See Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 65, Verse 15).

Main incidents.

How Mahāviṣṇu was born as the son of Aditi.

The Mahābhārata and the Rāmāyaṇa refer to a story about the birth of Mahāviṣṇu as the son of Aditi. Viṣṇu entered the womb of Aditi as Vāmana (Dwarf). This story was related by the sage Viśvāmitra to the boys Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa while they were accompanying the sage in the forest. When they entered Siddhāśrama Viśvāmitra pointed to the latter that the Āśrama was sacred, because Mahāviṣṇu had stayed there for long as Vāmana. The Devas induced Mahāviṣṇu to obstruct the sacrifice (yāga) being performed by Emperor Mahābali, son of Virocana. At that time Aditi, the wife of Kaśyapa was doing penance so that Mahāviṣṇu might be born as her son, and accordingly he entered her womb. 1000 years later she gave birth to Viṣṇu, and that child was known as Vāmana. (See Vāmana; also Mahābhārata Vana Parva, Chapter 272, Verse 62, Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 83, Verses 25 and 26, as also Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Canto 29).

Rebirth of Aditi.

Once Kaśyapa made all arrangements to perform a sacrifice (yāga). Having failed to get the suitable cow for it, he stole Varuṇa’s cow and conducted the yāga. Not only that, Kaśyapa refused to return the cow even after the yāga was over. Varuṇa in hot anger rushed to Kaśyapa’s hermitage. Kaśyapa was absent, and his wives, Aditi and Surasā did not treat Varuṇa with due respect. The enraged Varuṇa cursed them to be born in Gokula. He also complained about the matter to Brahmā. Brahmā told Kaśyapa: "Since you, a learned person, have stolen the cow, may you along with your wives be born in Gokula and tend cows". Accordingly Kaśyapa and his wives, Aditi and Surasā, were born respectively as Vasudeva, Devakī and Rohiṇī in Gokula in the 28th Dvāpara yuga. (This story has been told by Vyāsa to Rājā Janamejaya). (Devībhāgavata, Skandha 4).

Aditi in prison.

Devakī is Aditi reborn. There was reason for Devakī being imprisoned on the orders of Kaṃsa. When Kaśyapa was living in an Āśrama with Aditi and Diti he was so much pleased with the services of Aditi that he asked her to beg for any boon she wished. Accordingly she prayed for an ideal son. The boon was readily granted, and Indra was the son thus born to her. The birth of Indra engendered jealousy in Diti towards Aditi, and she also demanded a son equal to Indra. Kaśyapa obliged Diti also. As Diti advanced in pregnancy and her beauty also increased Aditi got jealous of the former and she called her son Indra and told him that unless something was done in time, Diti would deliver a child equal to him (Indra) thus relegating him probably to the place of second Deva. Thus admonished by his mother the artful Indra approached Diti and told her: "Mother, I have come to serve you". Diti was greatly pleased. Indra’s services drove Diti to sleep very quickly, and Indra used the opportunity to enter the womb of Diti and cut into 49 pieces the child with his weapon, the Vajra. The child in the womb began crying on receiving cuts with Vajra when Indra asked it not to cry. (Mā ruda, don't cry) and so the child got out of Diti’s womb as 49 Mārutas (winds). Then did Diti wake up and cursed Aditi as follows: "Your son did treacherously kill my offspring in the womb itself. So he will forfeit the three worlds. You were responsible for the murder of my child. You will, therefore, have to spend days in prison grieving over your children. Your children also will be annihilated". Because of this curse of Diti, Indra once lost Devaloka and had to live elsewhere, and Nahuṣa functioned, for a time as Indra. (See Nahuṣa). In the 28th Dvāpara yuga Aditi transformed as Devakī had to be a captive of Kaṃsa, and Kaṃsa killed her children by dashing them on the ground. (Devībhāgavata, Skandha 4).

Narakāsura stole the earrings of Aditi.

Narakāsura, who turned out to be a curse and menace to the three worlds consequent on the boon he got from Viṣṇu, attacked Devaloka once, and carried off Indra’s royal umbrella and Aditi’s earrings. Mahāviṣṇu incarnated himself as Śrī Kṛṣṇa, killed Narakāsura in battle and got back the earrings etc. (Mahābhārata Udyoga Parva, Chapter 48, Verse 80; Sabhā Parva, Chapter 38, Verse 29; Bhāgavata Daśama Skandha).

Mahāviṣṇu became seven times son to Aditi.

Once, desirous of having children Aditi cooked food (rice) sitting herself in the entrails of Mount Mynaka (Mahābhārata Āraṇya Parva, Chapter 135, Verse 3). Dharmaputra, in the course of singing the glories of Lord Kṛṣṇa after the great war refers to Viṣṇu having taken birth seven times in the womb of Aditi. (Mahābhārata Śānti Parva, Chapter 43, Verse 6).

Budha cursed Aditi.

A story in the Mahābhārata refers to Budha’s once cursing Aditi. The ever increasing power of Asuras made the Devas anxious. Aditi, the mother of the Devas decided to send them all to annihilate the Asuras. She had finished cooking food for her sons, and lo! there appeared before her Budha and asked for food. Aditi asked him to wait pending her sons taking their food hoping that there would be some food left after that. This caused Budha to lose his temper and he cursed her that (Aditi) she would become the mother of Vivasvān in his second birth as Aṇḍa, when she would suffer pain in her abdomen. (Mahābhārata Śānti Parva, Chapter 34, Verses 96-98).

Former birth of Aditi.

During the former years (period) of Svāyambhuva Manu the Prajāpati called Sutapas, along with his wife Pṛśni did Tapas for 12000 years. Then Mahāviṣṇu appeared before them, and Pṛśni prayed for a son like Viṣṇu himself, and Mahāviṣṇu was born as her son named Pṛśnigarbha. This story is related by Śrī Kṛsna to his mother on his birth as the son of Vasudeva. (Bhāgavata, Daśama Skandha, Chapter 3).

She, who became the wife of Prajāpati as Pṛśni before Svāyambhuva Manu, and was born again as Devakī, the wife of Vasudeva is one and the same person.

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